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Prebble on Awatere-Huata & Delamere Debacle

ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble tonight said that the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley's sacking of Mr Delamere was constitutionally correct.

"I have read the former Minister of Immigration's letter where he purports to make an exception to policy in order to grant possible permanent residency to twelve Chinese citizens. There is no way that letter can be described as an exception to policy. It is a new policy. All new policy, under the Cabinet Manual and the system of collective responsibility, must be approved by the Cabinet. That is a cornerstone principle of our Westminster system of collective cabinet responsibility.

"I have been in contact with my Member of Parliament Donna Awatere Huata who assures me that the application was made by her husband, and I have also spoken with Mr Huata to confirm that he made the application not his wife. Although applications for exceptions to policy are made every day, I am concerned that there be no perception of any impropriety by one of my MPs.

"Accordingly, to ensure transparency I have tonight written to the Prime Minister asking that she instruct the Cabinet Office to review the files and raise any issues of concern which might require further investigation by me.

"If that report raises any issues of concern about the Huata's handling of this matter I will have no hesitation to appoint an independent and external review probably by a Queen's Counsel to look at any matters raised by the Government's response," said Hon Richard Prebble.

24 November 1999
Rt. Hon Jenny Shipley MP
Prime Minister
Leader of the National Party
PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Dear Prime Minister

I write to you to request your urgent assistance in the matter of the former Minister of Immigration’s granting, as an exception to policy, permanent resident status to certain Chinese citizens in connection with Mr Wi Huata.

As you know, Mr Huata’s wife Mrs Donna Awatere Huata is a member of my Caucus. I have received an assurance from my MP that this was an application by her husband and that there is no suggestion of any wrong doing on his part. I recognise that any citizen is entitled to request an exception to policy by the Minister and it is up to the Minister to ensure that any such exception is within the rules.

However, I need to be reassured that there is no suggestion of any wrong doing or unethical behaviour by one of my MPs.

I request that you instruct the Cabinet Office, as you see fit, to examine all files in connection with this matter and report whether there are any matters of probity which might require further investigation by me.

For the purposes of the Privacy Act, Donna Awatere Huata and her husband Wi Huata, have given me authority to say to you that they join me in making this request.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Richard Prebble CBE
LEADER, ACT NEW ZEALAND
MP WELLINGTON CENTRAL


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